Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ring Festival LA meets Hitler's Birthday

Today, April 20, 2010, would have been the 121st birthday of Adolph Hitler. Usually Los Angeles has no public celebrations of Hitler's birthday. This year we've had two, very different in basic nature but with surprising similarities.


The first was a march last weekend by the National Socialist Movement, an American neo-Nazi white-supremacist group who marched Saturday in downtown Los Angeles waving swastikas and sieg heiling. The called it their "Reclaim the Southwest" rally. Having received a parade permit from the city, they were separated and protected by the LAPD from the much larger crowd of counter-demonstrators.

Judging by their website (nsm88.org), these people came here from a long distance. They chose LA because we have so many illegal aliens who, back wherever they came from, are taking their jobs. You can just imagine what they think about Jews.

Here's what I read in this article:
According to NSM leaders, the rally was being held to remember the birthday of Adolf Hitler, the former German leader of the Nazi Party. Hitler's actual birthday is not until the 20th of April.
The United States is a free country and every one has the right to say what they think even if it's hateful.  People did not have that same right in Hitler's Germany. Making sure there is strong First Amendment protection for people with nutty, contrary opinions means our protection against developing our own fascist government is also strong.


It's called Invisible Siegfrieds Marching Sunset Boulevard and it's part of Ring Festival LA.  Here's a description I found at the website of Villa Aurora, the event's sponsor:
Nussbaumer’s Invisible Siegfrieds Marching Sunset Boulevard is a passage opera that processes Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen through the respectful distance of time, marking both obvious and obscure references.

Preceding the first complete performance of his four evening cycle in Los Angeles, Wagner’s “Gesamtkunstwerk” — which ignores the presumed boundaries of opera, theater, music, stage and audience — was conceived contemporaneously with California’s gold rush and is therefore completed by the invisible Siegfried’s journey from downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean across Sunset Boulevard, featuring alto Christina Ascher.
Huh?  Here's the idea as I understand it:  People are going to put on heavy metal Wagnerian-style helmets, possibly including those with horns, and march and sweat their way down sections of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, starting downtown and ending four days later at the ocean and there's going to be a woman singing Wagner and we are assured that there will be drinking and who knows what else.

The artist who conceived of all these conceptual concepts is named Georg Nussbaumer.  I bet there has been drinking. 

The description of Invisible Siegfrieds Marching Sunset Boulevard which really pushed my buttons comes from this LA Times article by :
It's no coincidence that the event concludes on the birthday of Adolf Hitler, the best known and most notorious Wagner lover of all. Nussbaumer said he consciously chose the date to defy Hitler by transforming this historical day into something "new, bright, excessive, peaceable and lively."
Transform Hitler's birthday into something "new, bright, excessive, peaceable and lively"?  It's like a traditional Hitler birthday party but with beer instead of cake.  In my opinion that's just plain sick.  In reality Nussbaumer's event is not defying Hitler, it's calling attention to him.  It's positive publicity for Hitler.

Has no one at Ring Festival LA noticed that this is one small step in the exculpation of Adolph Hitler?  Maybe they don't care about this aspect as long as the event involves Wagner in some way.  Maybe there's been drinking at RFLA as well.  Maybe they're ROFL.

Nobody who is actually from Los Angeles whom I'm aware of celebrates Hitler's birthday, at least in public.  If there is any notice of Hitler's birthday, it should be a sober affair with somber, temperate reflection on the anguish of Hitler's victims.

Jews already have a holiday to remember Hitler's evil deeds.  It's called Yom HaShoah, it's the Holocaust memorial day and it just happened last week.  It is not a bright or lively day.  Nor should it be.


It's easy to see how they're different, but how are Invisible Siegfrieds Marching Sunset Boulevard and the National Socialist Movement's Reclaim the Southwest Rally alike?
  • Both events happened in Los Angeles.
  • Both events observed Hitler's birthday.
  • Both events involved people marching.
  • Both events have people wearing helmets.
  • Both events displayed Nazi symbols: swastikas in one, Wagner's music in the other.
These two events, happening so close together, are creepy and wrong.  I suggest that if people really need a date on which to remember Adolph Hitler they might choose April 30.  April 30, 2010 will be the 65th anniversary of Hitler's suicide in his Berlin bunker.

 Read all of Mixed Meters articles concerning Ring Festival LA

Looking for a different holocaust holiday? Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day is April 24. It's widely observed in my part of Los Angeles.

The story behind the Washington Holocaust Memorial door with bullet holes is here and ends here.  The picture came from here.

The picture of the guy with the helmet and the swastika flag and the picture of the guy with the watering-can helmet on a beach which is not in Santa Monica came from the LA Times.  My apologies for swiping the pictures.  More pictures are here.

The picture of the coin showing an all-American Richard Wagner panning for gold in the California Gold Rush with the words "Liberty" and "In God We Trust" came from the Invisible Siegfrieds Marching Sunset Boulevard website which also contains a picture of a supposedly all-American-Indian cast of Wagner's Ring and also George Nussbaumer's bank account numbers so you can make a contribution, presumably in honor of Hitler's birthday.

Addendum (4/23/10)

Here's one of several pictures of ISMSB on Flickr.  One Flickr user, Larry Gassan, wrote this about the straggle of Invisible Siegfrieds he encountered:
This had to to be the loneliest subset of devotees I've ever encountered.  The three Siegfrieds, with the fourth inside the mylar-shrouded buggy, complete with loudspeaker, commence Day 2 of their March to the Sea on Sunset Blvd. This is singular, and heroic in the face of overwhelming indifference by the world at large.

Here's another one taken by Mr. Rollers and it seems to show that all the helmets were identical.

As pointed out by MM reader MarK,  here is an Invisible Siegfrieds review from the L.A. Times which uses the one adjective "innovative" to describe the project.  Here's a quote from the article:
Participation was less than expected. “I’m a bit surprised about the low number of 'Invisible Siegfrieds' we were able to recruit,” Nussbaumer said. “About 50 people said they would come, but none of them appeared. I thought that in a metropolitan city we would find at least ten people marching with us, because then the interplay between silence and singing would have been more effective. It’s also a pity, because artists could have had a truly unique and interesting experience.“

Helmet Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Anonymous said...

I do not even know when hitler's birthday is or do i care-
I attended the final day of IS-
It was great fun-music and surf-
christina was wonderfull-the whole performance was a joy to be apart of-
great idea-loved the watering cans-sound and vision-
very unique event in LA
complete strangers coming together to play music make sounds and experience thescene

David Ocker said...

Thanks Ms. Anonymous, glad you could party. I'm not surprised that it was a "very unique event". Maybe you took some pictures and posted them online somewhere. Maybe you'd care to share them with us. Didn't it rain Tuesday? Hitler's birthday was Tuesday. Now you know.

MarK said...

The way this event was advertised in the media was undeniably and unpleasantly disturbing. But it was clearly designed to be provocative and it was - at least it provoked you into writing about it on your blog. However, you were not there and neither was i - so let's not judge this event by the way it was advertised. We all know that there is a big difference between real things and the way they appear in advertising. But Anonymous was there and that is why i take his or her description of it at face value until i hear from somebody else who was there. (Which may never happen because i personally don't know of anyone who was planning to participate.)

David Ocker said...

Granted, I wasn't there. I don't know Georg Nussbaumer and can't imagine why he created this event the way he did. I wonder if he thought enough people would contribute money to make it a profitable event for him.

Except for Ms. Anonymous' comment here, I've found no proof anywhere on the net that the event actually happened. (I'm really hoping someone took pictures.) Maybe a review would indicate how many people showed up and what the reactions of casual passers-by might have been.

I'm mystified by Nussbaumer's comment about Hitler's birthday in relation to his marching "process opera" That comment was printed in the LA Times. This reference doesn't appear in any of the RFLA publicity as far as I'm aware. Maybe Nussbaumer was just having a laugh, pulling LA's leg during his interview. Maybe he thinks such remarks are widely acceptable in the United States.

What really prompted me to write my blog post was the amazingly mind-blowing similarities in time, space and insignia between Invisible Siegrieds and the neo-Nazi march on City Hall. According to news sources the white-supremacist, anti-Semitic, racist City Hall march was also intended to honor Hitler's birthday. I wonder if the NSM plays Wagner at the start of their rallies the way the Nazis did.

(Actually, it would be more likely if they played music distributed by Resistance Records. Now there's a sobering, frightening website.)

MarK said...

There is a report in LA Times now (on CultureMonster blog) that the event has actually happened. Apparently, very few people participated or attended, which is not surprising and maybe even encouraging.

David Ocker said...

Thirty people and a disappointed composer. Sounds just like lots of new music concerts I've attended over the years. And no pictures (sigh).

I wonder if this identical event would have prompted a far greater turnout in New York or in Europe. I wonder if Nussbaumer has sufficient familiarity with Los Angeles to pull something like this off here. And I wonder if it might have worked better on Wilshire or Olympic rather than Sunset Boulevard. (My answers: yes, no, no)

Not to mention whether Los Angelenos would have responded in greater numbers for an event based on the works of a composer other than Wagner. William Walton? Anton Webern? Andrew Lloyd Webber? Carl Maria von Weber?

David Ocker said...

I've added an addendum to the original post. There's one quote by a photographer (found at Flickr) and another by the composer (found at LA Times) plus a picture.

You can use THIS LINK to search Flickr for more Invisible Siegfrieds pictures.

In the interests of fairness, I suppose I should look for pictures and comments about the National Socialist Movement's march on Los Angeles City Hall which began the same day as Invisible Siegfrieds.

I did find this video promo for the NSM "Reclaim the Southwest" march but it only shows scenes from their previous marches (and gives an idea about their music).